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Pearlman Wins Greenberg Center’s Wallant Award for her collection of stories, "Binocular Vision"

Posted 03/31/2012
Posted by David Isgur

The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford will present author Edith Pearlman with the 2011 Edward Lewis Wallant Award for her outstanding collection of short stories, Binocular Vision. The presentation ceremony, which will include a talk by Pearlman and comments from the Wallant Award judges, will be held on Monday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in the University’s 1877 Club.

Admission to the Wallant Award presentation ceremony is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Please call 860.768.4964 to make a reservation for the event, which will be held in the 1877 Club in the Harry Jack Gray Center on the University of Hartford campus, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford.

Binocular Vision is Pearlman’s fourth collection, published in January 2011 by Lookout Books, a new imprint at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  The collection includes 18 stories from her previous three books and three early stories never collected. It includes also 13 new stories, in which Edith Pearlman’s favorite themes of accommodation, young love, old love, thwarted love, and love denied; of Jews and their dilemmas; of marriage, family, death, and betrayal are all examined.

Binocular Vision’s twenty-one vintage stories and thirteen new stories take readers around the world, from Jerusalem to Central America, from tsarist Russia to London during the Blitz, from central Europe to Manhattan, and from the Maine coast to Godolphin, Mass., a fictional suburb of Boston. While the locales change and the characters vary, Pearlman’s tender, observant, and insightful storytelling is consistent throughout.

No matter the situation in which her characters find themselves -- an unforeseen love affair between adolescent cousins, a lifetime of memories unearthed by an elderly couple’s decision to shoplift, the deathbed secret of a young girl’s forbidden forest tryst with the tsar, the danger that befalls a wealthy couple’s child in a European inn of misfits -- Edith Pearlman conveys their experience with wit and aplomb, with relentless but clear-eyed optimism, and with a supple prose that reminds us, sentence by sentence, page by page, of the gifts our greatest verbal innovators can bestow.

Binocular Vision reveals a true American original, a master of the story, showing us, with her classic sensibility and lasting artistry, the cruelties, the longings, and the rituals that connect human beings across space and time.

Although Pearlman has published more than 250 works of short fiction and non-fiction and has been acclaimed and appreciated as one of our premier storytellers, her work has only recently begun to receive the recognition from national awards that it has long deserved. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Collection, New Stories from the South, and The Pushcart Prize Collection–Best of the Small Presses. Her list of well-deserved accolades includes the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and the PEN/Malamud for excellence in the art of short fiction. Binocular Vision was also named a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Story Prize.

Her first collection of stories, Vaquita, won the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature and was published by the University of Pittsburgh University Press in 1996. Her second, Love Among The Greats (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002), won the Spokane Annual Fiction Prize. Her third collection, How to Fall, was published by Sarabande Press in 2005 and won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.

Pearlman’s short essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian Magazine, Preservation, Yankee Magazine, and Ascent. Her travel writing – about the Cotswolds, Budapest, Jerusalem, Paris, and Tokyo – has been published in The New York Times and elsewhere.

Established nearly 50 years ago in 1963 by Dr. and Mrs. Irving Waltman of West Hartford to honor the memory of the late Edward Lewis Wallant, author of The Pawnbroker and other works of fiction, the Wallant Award is today one of the oldest and most prestigious Jewish literary awards in the United States. It is presented to an American Jewish writer, preferably unrecognized, whose published work of fiction is deemed to have significance for the American Jew.

As a Wallant Award winner, Pearlman joins a distinguished list of award recipients, including Cynthia Ozick, Curt Leviant, Chaim Potok, Myla Goldberg, Dara Horn, and Nicole Krauss, as well as last year’s award winner, Julie Orringer.

For more information, contact Susan Gottlieb at the Greenberg Center, at 860.768.4964 or For more information on the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, please see the Wallant Award web site.